Religion and Nationality Are Incompatible, Whether in Judaism, Christianity or Islam

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Israelis and Arabs rally for co-existence. Sign reads: Neighbors of peace. July 7, 2014.
Will the religious leaders on both sides really allow Jewish Israelis and Palestinians to coexist?Credit: Gil Eliahu

Everyone can calm down. There won’t be a binational state here. The reason is simple – in the area stretching between the sea and Jordan there aren’t two sufficiently formed, consolidated nations for this tango. The absolute majority of both imaginary communities on either side of the divide cannot free itself from the chains of religion and break out of its religious affiliation. So the discourse around the state’s definition as “Jewish and democratic” is futile, and leads nowhere.

All the so-called “secular” champions of Zionism continue to argue that there’s no contradiction between a Jewish state and a democracy. To strengthen their argument they repeatedly cite Jewish “nationalism,” as distinct from “religion.” This argument is fundamentally fallacious. The question all those “nationalist” Zionists must ask themselves in this context is: Is a Jew superior to other mortals? The religious Jew, like a member of any other religion, will answer in the affirmative, because this is the essence of religious faith. The question is whether this is the case with the “secular” Jew as well.

To make the fallacy of nationalism in this context clear to laymen, consider this hypothetical case: A rabbi, a qadi and a priest – this is not the beginning of a joke – joined on a quest to discover a new planet. The planet is located on the milk-and-honey way and called Enliel (“I have no God”). After they landed the three agreed to meet again on the landing site a week later to fly back. Then each went on his way.

The Enliels are an amiable, welcoming people that belong to an unknown green-colored race. They greeted the visitors with joy and prepared a royal feast for them. A week later the three returned to the landing area with glowing faces. Each one told the others that he had succeeded to convert the green family he stayed with from its “primitive” believes to Judaism, Christianity or Islam, respectively.

Now the question is, do the three green families, who have a defined place, language, culture, history and deep-rooted Enlieli social traditions, stop being part of the Enliel nation and culture?

Of course the rigorous Orthodox rabbi, who converted the Enlieli family according to halakha – and after him Benjamin Netanyahu, Shlomo Avineri, Gadi Taub and Ari Shavit – will continue to claim that this green family is “the Israeli nation” and the “Jewish people” that received the Torah from Sinai. They will even demand to apply to this family the Law of Return to the “Jewish democratic” state, teach it the history of the “Land of Israel,” in which the “green Jewish nation” arose and in which its spiritual, religious and political image were formed Maybe they’ll even invent a name of some “green” Jewish tribe for the Enliel people and call it “the 13th tribe.”

Obviously any degenerate, unless he’s a Zionist degenerate, sees the fallacy of the national argument in this story. It teaches us that racism and chauvinism, regardless of which side they come from, destroy every bit of gray matter in the human brain.

However, all this isn’t intended to deny the right of self-determination to the imaginary communities developing in the safeguarded state. On the contrary, it comes to stress that religion and nationality are incompatible, whether in Judaism, Christianity or Islam. Anyone who fails to comprehend something so basic would best get ready for hard times ahead.

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